Back in October, during the Lichfield Discovered group walk around Leomansley, a friend of mine, Kerry, happened to mention that she’d discovered a large stone, buried at the bottom of her Leomansley garden. Not just any old stone either – it has a perfect ‘L’ carved into it which clearly has some significance. The question is what?
My initial thought was that it was a boundary stone of some kind. As far as I can see, the area where the stone was discovered was undeveloped until the mid 20th century and was previously agricultural land known as Parnell’s field. I know that there was also common land in Leomansley, stretching south and east from Leamonsley Mill Pond to the Walsall Road as well as a Lammas meadow, and so my best guess is that this could be a dole stone or similar, used to mark out strips of land or perhaps to mark the common land from land owned by others?
There’s a reference from May 1659, transcribed by Thomas Harwood in 1806 from a ‘Boke made in the 16 yere of the regne of kynge Edward the Fourthe. Thomas Dodde being Mastur of the Gilde of our Ladye Saynt Marie and of Seynt John the Baptiste in Lichfelde of all the lands and tenements lungyng to the forsaide Glide and the fyldes abowte Lychefeld and yn the towne” (1) including the following:
Parnelle’s Fylde – It’m, won acre in the myddyes of Parnelle’s fylde lyyng in brede betweene the londe of the Prioris of St Johanes and the londe of theres of Stafford in brede and shotes upon Lemonsley. It’m won crofte lying betwene Pipemyre and Lemonsley in lenkythe and betwene the londe of William Byrde and Lemonsley in brede.
To be honest, I can’t visualise how the jigsaw of land fitted together and so I think a trip to the record office, first stop the St Michael’s Tithe Map, is in order. (2)
In the meantime, Kerry and I would love to hear from anyone who may have any ideas on what the stone is, what it was for and of course, what the L might stand for. Leomansley? Lammas? Also, as greedy as ever, I’m wondering if more stones might be out there somewhere. Time to do some gardening I think….
Big thanks to Kerry for sharing her discovery and for letting me share her photograph.
1) The spellings are as they are found in Harwood’s book. I like how even the spelling of Lichfield is inconsistent!
2) Something else Leomansely agriculture related. I had wondered why Saxon Walk, a cul-de-sac off the lane leading off Christchurch Lane, past Leomansley Woods, towards Pipe Green was so called. According to John Shaw, the name was taken from the name of the field which it was built on – Saxon’s Nook. Might be a good opportunity to take a look at some of the other old field names whilst I’ve got the Tithe Map out. Place names carry meanings.
3) I suppose I should consider the possibility that the stone actually came from elsewhere and ended up here through use as a garden feature or something.
The History and Antiquities of the Church and City of Lichfield, Thomas Harwood
A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield
Street Names of Lichfield John Shaw